Vancouver Fringe Festival 2014: Brian’s Picks

In just one week the 2014 Vancouver Fringe Festival will descend upon the city for 11 frenetic days. Hundreds of artists will congregate on Granville Island and in venues across the city to present a dizzying roster of more than 700 performances.


This staggering volume and variety, paired with a lottery-based selection system, mean every performance attended is a roll of the dice. Some will be riotously entertaining, some profoundly moving, and some inevitably cringe-inducing. Fringe is a theatrical smorgasbord of possibility and discovery.


Each year, LMPR’s Brian Paterson combs through the program guide to select five highlights from the festival. With just a handful of words and one small image, these shows particularly piqued his interest and will see him take the plunge:


Industry: The Food Must Go Out

Fringe is brilliant for taking theatre to places we normally wouldn’t encounter it. This year, shows will run in alleyways, boats, playgrounds, and more. This work- which uses Edible Canada Bistro as its stage- is especially intriguing. 


Created and performed by a duo of veteran Fringe comedians and food servers, the piece promises to amplify and satirize the inherently dramatic experience of restaurant work.


Bonus points for being at least partly auto-biographical – a Fringe hallmark.


Jem Rolls Attacks the Silence

Seeing a truly gifted spoken word poet is an intoxicating experience. It’s unlike any other form of theatre. Through percussive, rhythmic performance the word is transformed into something weightier and more powerful, imbuing a single performer on a bare stage with the emotional impact of a Mahler symphony.


Jem Rolls is an international Fringe legend, whose latest show has built a great head of steam as it travels East through Canada’s network of Fringe festivals.


Expect humorous anecdotes, heavy human insight, a razor sharp mind, and crackling poetic bravado.


Peter n’ Chris and the Kinda OK Corral

Disclosure: This pick isn’t entirely chosen from the guide: I’ve seen these two previously. The experience remains the hardest I have ever laughed at a show (that ‘can’t-catch-your-breath, starting-to-get-worried’ type of laughter).


Peter n’ Chris are masterful physical performers who joyfully skewer dramatic conventions and genre tropes in odd-ball, over-the-top, meta-theatre adventures.


Few artists have as much fun performing as Peter n’ Chris, and their enthusiasm is positively infectious.


The Chariot Cities

For a few years it seemed that Fringe musicals had to be campy send-ups (ideally of a popular film). These have their place, but they skip over the emotional depth accessible by the form.


Audiences seeking musical theatre have options this year, but The Chariot Cities is particularly promising. It follows a broken and dysfunctional family of musicians, taking the 70’s folk era as its inspiration, and sports a line-up of serious local talent.


Anticipate raw emotion and beautiful song.


Caws & Effect

It’s a beautiful thing to be in dumbstruck awe of fellow human being’s imagination. Mind of a Snail’s contribution seems like an excellent opportunity to seek out this experience.


Made lovingly by hand, their grand-scale shadow puppetry promises to take us into the world of crows with projections, masks, and an original score. I pick it hoping to feast my eyes on unprecedented sights.



The Vancouver Fringe Festival 2014 Program Guide is now available so that audiences can plan their own theatrical expeditions.


We’d love to hear about your own discoveries and adventures- feel free to share your picks and reviews in the comments or tweet using the #VanFringe hashtag so that we can follow along!




Categories: Musings